Egypt opens Gaza border for two days

A Palestinian woman takes part in a protest calling for the Egyptian authorities to open the Rafah Border Crossing in the southern Gaza Strip on March 22, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 23 March 2018
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Egypt opens Gaza border for two days

GAZA CITY: Egypt opened its largely sealed border with the Gaza Strip on Friday for two days, Palestinian authorities said.
In just the third such opening this year, the crossing between the Palestinian enclave and Egypt’s Sinai region will be open Friday and Saturday for humanitarian cases, the Palestinian embassy in Cairo said.
The Rafah crossing is the only exit for Gaza residents except into Israel, but Egypt has largely sealed it in recent years, citing security threats.
Egyptian authorities have a poor relationship with Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas, whom they have accused of supporting attacks inside Egypt.
Both of the two previous border openings this year were cut short due to the security situation in Sinai.
The Egyptian army and police forces are engaged in a fierce conflict with armed Islamists, especially in the North Sinai governorate where an Egyptian affiliate of the Islamic State is active.
Hundreds have been killed on both sides.
For more than a decade, Israel has imposed a crippling blockade on Gaza that critics say amounts to collective punishment of the coastal territory’s two million Palestinian residents.
Israel says the blockade is necessary to isolate Hamas, with which it has fought three wars since 2008.
Egypt has also kept the Rafah crossing largely closed for several years.
In October, Egypt brokered a reconciliation agreement between Hamas and Fatah, the party of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, that was supposed to see the Islamists give up power in Gaza.
But the deal has collapsed, with the two Palestinian groups trading blame.


Pentagon plans to send 5,000 more troops to Middle East amid Iran threat: US officials

Updated 23 May 2019
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Pentagon plans to send 5,000 more troops to Middle East amid Iran threat: US officials

  • Tehran and Washington have this month been escalating rhetoric against each other
  • The US military deployed a carrier strike group, bombers and Patriot missiles to the Middle East earlier this month

WASHINGTON: The US Department of Defense is considering a US military request to send about 5,000 additional troops to the Middle East amid increasing tensions with Iran, two US officials told Reuters on Wednesday.
Tehran and Washington have this month been escalating rhetoric against each other, following US President Donald Trump’s decision to try to cut Iran’s oil exports to zero and beef up the US military presence in the Gulf in response to what he said were Iranian threats.
The officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the request had been made by US Central Command, but added that it was not clear whether the Pentagon would approve the request.
The Pentagon regularly receives — and declines — requests for additional resources from US combatant commands throughout the world.
One of the officials said the requested troops would be defensive in nature.
This appeared to be the latest request for additional resources in the face of what US officials have said are credible threats from Iran against US forces and American interests in the Middle East.
The Pentagon declined to comment on future plans.
“As a matter of longstanding policy, we are not going to discuss or speculate on potential future plans and requests for forces,” Commander Rebecca Rebarich, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said on Wednesday.
Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said on Tuesday that while threats from Iran in the Middle East remained high, deterrence measures taken by the Pentagon had “put on hold” the potential for attacks on Americans.
The US military deployed a carrier strike group, bombers and Patriot missiles to the Middle East earlier this month in response to what Washington said were troubling indications of possible preparations for an attack by Iran.
Trump had warned on Monday that Iran would be met with “great force” if it attacked US interests in the Middle East.